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February 18. 2013 7:45PM

New Plymouth State University museum opens with eye on mountains


A painting of Franconia Notch by Samuel L. Gerry will be on display at the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University starting Saturday. (COURTESY)
PLYMOUTH - The history and beauty of the White Mountains will be displayed in grand style at Plymouth State University starting Saturday, when the university's Museum of the White Mountains opens to the public.

Featuring art, documents, books and other tributes to New Hampshire's peaks and valleys, the museum will offer presentations, exhibitions and programs for researchers, students and the public, said Catherine Amidon, the museum's director.

Collections will be available digitally so visitors, regardless of their location, can enjoy the museum's offerings. And the collection will benefit PSU students, many of whom came to the university because of its unique position at the foothills of the White Mountains.

"It's not just a history museum, it's not just an art museum, it is all of the above, and it will benefit people with interests in many areas of study," Amidon said.

PSU President Sara Jayne Steen said the goal is to preserve and promote the unique history, culture and environmental legacy of the region.

"As the state's northern-most public university, we want to be the premier place for teaching and research about the White Mountains," said Steen. "The museum's physical and digital presence opens to the world the treasure that is the White Mountains."

The upcoming yearlong exhibition, titled "Passing Through the Allure of the White Mountains," will be divided between five geographic regions - Franconia Notch, the northern Presidentials, the summit of Mount Washington, Crawford Notch and Conway Valley.

It will feature contributions from historians and collectors who have been eager to take part, Amidon said. Many organizations such as the New Hampshire Historical Society have helped, as have private individuals such as the Newton family of Massachusetts, collectors who have donated their entire 6,000-piece White Mountain collection of books, flyers, and other materials.

Many of the art pieces are works donated for display from private art collections, Amidon said.

"The reaction we've had from those participating has been, 'Why hasn't this been done before?' " Amidon said. "Everyone is very excited about it."

Amidon said there will be GPS coordinates displayed next to the paintings and prints exhibited in the museum, so people can visit the actual sites where the art was created.

"We're going to be inviting people to not only look at the exhibition, but also to go out into the White Mountains and experience it for themselves," she said.

Next year, the museum will open its second exhibition, "Beyond Granite," which will focus on many of the geological aspects of the mountains and their relationship to the region.

Admission is free. The hours are Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. The museum will be closed on Mondays and both Mondays and Tuesdays during the summer.

dseufert@newstote.com

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